Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Waiting for the Mood to be Right?

If you're waiting for the "right mood" before you sit down to write...this is a mistake.  Why?

While writing is an emotional art form, it is also a business.  Too many people, when they are first starting out, think it's all about working when the mood is right.  They might be waiting a very long time. Most writers I've talked to say that what they write when the mood is right is pretty much the same as what they write when the mood isn't.  While a large part of a writer's work consists of thinking, a writer isn't paid for those thoughts. A writer is paid for the words that are written.

Another mistake...too many beginning writers try to be artists before they master the craft of writing. While in every generation there are some natural-born geniuses who can make that leap, the vast majority of us have to toil away at learning the craft.

There are very few professions in which someone would expect to walk in and be accepted at the highest levels right from the start. Yet, for some reason, people think writing is a profession in which amateurs can enter right at the top level.  This is a mistake.  So, what should you do?

Learn the craft of writing. First and foremost, learn it by writing a lot. There is no substitute for actually doing something in order to learn it.  Then get feedback from those who know more about the craft than you do, either through a network of friends, a writer's group, a writing retreat, a writing conference, a mentor, whatever you can find. An MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) in creative writing is another possibility, although usually the focus in those programs is more on literary writing.
                                                                                                     Taken from: 70 Solutions To Writing Mistakes

Well, friends, it is my sad news to let you know I did not make the 50K word goal for NaNoWriMo this year.  Due a 10 day or so illness, I fell so far behind I just couldn't catch up.  But, there's always next year.
Congrats to everyone who participated in NaNo and made their goals.  Yeah!

Keep Writing, Ya'all,
Sunny Marie

Friday, November 11, 2011

Ever wonder why...?

Those of you who sign up every year on November 1st to be a part of the month long writing frenzy known as NaNoWriMo...have you ever wondered why the goal is to write 50,000 words by November 30th?

Well, Chris Baty explains this in his book, No Plot, No Problem.
"I'd like to say that NaNoWriMo's 50,000-word threshold was achieved by a scientific assessment of the great short novels of our age. The real story is that when I started this whole month-long noveling escapade (five years ago), I simply grabbed the shortest novel on my shelf--which happened to be Aldous Huxley's Brave New World--did a rough word count of it, and went with that figure."
Chris continues by saying...
"Over the years, though, 50,000 words has proven itself a good goal for a month's labors. Writing 50,000 words in a month breaks down to about 1,667 words per day. Most average typists will be able to dispatch that in an hour and a half, which makes it doable, even for people with full-time jobs and chaotic home lives. Fifty thousand words is also just large enough for someone writing concisely to sketch an entire story arc within its borders. And yet, despite its short stature, a 50,000 word novel is no cakewalk. Only about 17 percent of National Novel Writing Month participants reach the 50,000-word finish line every year, and some have argued that the number should be lowered."
Chris concludes with...
"I think the number is perfect. Because you're covering so much ground, so quickly, the high number forces you to lower your expectations for your prose, to write for quantity over quality, and to stop being so hard on yourself. And this, for a first draft, is the pathway to genius."

So, there you have it...from the horses mouth, so to speak.  From my own experience, I can tell you it's not easy to make the 50,000 word goal. You have to be dedicated to sitting in front of the computer and writing "something" every single day.  If you get behind, it's not a easy task to get caught up and be on target with word count for each day.

As of this moment, I'm sitting at 18,620 words...slightly over where I need to be for day 11.  So for the moment I'm ahead of the game, but I can't slack up now. In a few minutes I'll be pounding away on the keyboard to get a few more words on the page before the sun comes up in the morning.  If any of you are NaNo-ing this year, I hope your word count is right on target...keep at it. Let's be winners this year.

Keep Writing, Ya'all,
Sunny Marie

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What's A Story?

A story is a "narrative of events."

Little Red Riding Hood goes into the woods, meets the wolf, takes a short cut to grandma's, meets the wolf again, says "My what big teeth you have," the woodcutter comes and chops up the wolf. A narrative of events is a simple recounting or retelling of something that happened, either in the "real" world, or in a "fictional" world.  The story of Little Red Riding Hood is clearly a narrative of events.  It is also a narrative of events when the old man goes out to catch the big fish, or when Michael Corleone goes out to kill his father's enemies, or when Leamas, the spy, goes out into the cold.  Any story is a narrative of events.  But that is not all it is.

Consider this narrative of events:
Joe hops out of bed, dresses, packs a lunch, gets into his car. He drives a few blocks to his girlfriend's place and picks her up.  Her name is Sally.  They drive to the beach where they lie on the hot sand all day, then have a nice seafood dinner.  On the way home they stop for ice cream.  This is a narrative of events, but is it a story?

Most readers, instinctively, would sense that it is not.  The reason is that the events are not worth reading about.  The events must be of interest.  So what if Joe goes to the beach with his girlfriend?  So what if they have a dinner?  The events of this narrative have no meaning because the events have no consequences.  If we define a story as a "narrative of events," we have not gone far enough in our definition.  We must add that is is a "narrative of consequential events."

Besides consequential events a story has to involve human characters.  And not only human characters, but human characters that are worthy of our attention.  No one wants to read about characters who are just anybody.  They want to read about interesting somebodies, characters capable of evoking in the reader some measure of emotional response. 

An expanded definition of story now would be: "A story is a narrative of events involving worthy human characters and consequential events."

This definition is good but still not complete.  What is missing is that the characters must change as a result of conflict.  If a character waltzes through a story unaffected by the events and sufferings he sees and endures, then the narrative of events is not a story at all, but merely an adventure.

A complete definition, then, is: A story is a narrative of consequential events involving worthy human characters who change as a result of those events.
                                   Excerpted from How To Write A Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey

If you will remember the above definition of "a story" when you set out to write a short story or novel, and incorporate these elements in your writing, you'll have created a piece of work worthy of being published.

Keep Writing, Ya'all,
Sunny Marie